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 1. An impromptu, comical exchange about the race for U.S. representative Jim McDermott’s (D-WA, 7) open seat ensued at last Thursday afternoon’s Sound Transit board meeting when board member Auburn mayor Nancy Backus recognized board member King County Council member Dave Upthegrove by calling him “congressman.”

Maybe Backus was confusing the two younger gay white guys on the board? King County council member and Sound Transit board member Joe McDermott (no relation to Jim), who’s running for Jim McDermott’s seat, was at the table as well. (Upthegrove and Joe McDermott are both gay.)

Politely clearing up any confusion, Upthegrove quipped, “I don’t live in the seventh.”

At that, Pierce County executive Pat McCarthy said: “Apparently, you don’t have to,” making a little dig at state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle), who’s also running for Jim McDermott’s seventh district seat, but who lives in the 9th Congressional District.

2. Speaking of the race for U.S. representative Jim McDermott’s seat, the third candidate in the contest, state representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill) finally answered the “Bernie or Hillary” question I posed to all three candidates two weeks ago; Jayapal and Joe McDermott responded promptly with Jayapal going for Sanders and McDermott going for Clinton. (For a speed-dating question, it’s pretty good, isn’t it? Gives you a good sense of what kind of Democrats they are.)

After telling me on Friday “I’ll be supporting Bernie,” Walkinshaw amended his answer over the weekend, telling me that while he’s “thrilled by the focus the Sanders campaign has brought to critical issues like single payer health care and financial sector reform,” he’s not endorsing either candidate yet until he gets some answers from both camps  about a batch of federal issues that impact the district. Walkinshaw is interested in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) rules to allow federal funds to be used for development around light rail stations, getting National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for research on cannabis at Washington state public universities, and in getting the Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) strategies to act on mayor Ed Murray’s homelessness emergency declaration. 

Walkinshaw says he’s reached out to both campaigns with these questions in advance of Washington state’s March 26 primary.

Or maybe he'll have a better answer tomorrow after we know who won Iowa?

3. Speaking of the Jim McDermott race and endorsements: Jayapal rolled out a list of endorsements last week, and one name that popped out was Seattle city council member Lorena González; Walkinshaw had flaunted González's endorsement a few weeks ago, before Jayapal had entered the race. 

González is a longtime Jayapal colleague—the two women both held leadership positions at OneAmerica, the civil rights group Jayapal founded. Walkinshaw's González endorsement seemed like quite the get,  throwing down the gauntlet in the battle over progressive endorsements. Not so much. Walkinshaw will now have to share the González nod with Jayapal.   

4. The city parks department isn’t too tweaked by a hearing examiner ruling late last week that seemed to upend controversial city plans to build a mountain bike and pedestrian trail in the Cheasty greenspace in Southeast Seattle between Columbia City and Beacon Hill.

The hearing examiner ruling, which came down in favor of Friends of Cheasty, a group that objects to the trail on environmental grounds, said the city’s “determination of nonsignificance” was premature; the hearing examiner said the parks department has to do more research to measure the proposed trail’s impacts on wetlands, wild life, and drainage. (The hearing examiner did not say, the proposed trail was bad news for the environment, they simply said they need more information.)

Parks admits their state environmental policy act (SEPA) determination of nonsignificance came early—before the exact location of the trail was determined, for example—but parks says they did the survey well in advance to give the public more time to weigh in. Now that the trail is further along in design mode, they can provide a more thorough assessment, they tell me.

The hearing examiner ruling doesn’t torpedo the planned bike and ped trail (which another group of environmentalists, Friends of Cheasty Greenspace/Mt. View supports.) It merely forces parks to redo their SEPA analysis. If parks changes its findings to either a mitigated determination of nonsignificance (MDNS) or a determination of significance, they simply have to come up with recommended mitigation plans and alternatives.

Similar bike and ped trails run through wetlands and greenspaces throughout King County and parks believes any required mitigation will be standard fare.

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